- The Telegraph
human error not ruled out after dead and injured pulled from wreckage of head-on crash in puglia
At least 22 people were killed and dozens more injured yesterday when two trains crashed head-on in the southern Italian region of Puglia. The collision happened on a stretch of isolated track around 11.30am between the towns of Ruvo di Puglia and Corato, around 25 miles from Bari. Dramatic images of the crumpled carriages showed how the violent impact of the crash forced them off the rails and debris was strewn across the neighbouring olive groves. AT least 27 people were killed and dozens more injured yesterday when two trains crashed head-on in the southern Italian region of Puglia. The collision happened on a stretch of isolated track around 11.30am between the towns of Ruvo di Puglia and Corato, around 25 miles from Bari. Dramatic images of the crumpled carriages showed how the violent impact of the crash forced them off the rails and debris was strewn across the neighbouring olive groves. Massimo Mazzilli, the mayor of Corato, compared the devastation at the scene of the accident to a “plane crash”. As messages of grief and sympathy were expressed across Italy, there was speculation that the crash had been caused by human error. Emergency workers, firefighters and police worked throughout the day in temperatures above 90F (33C) to free survivors trapped beneath the twisted metal. “Unfortunately the death toll appears to be rising,” said Giuseppe Corrado, vice-president of the local province, as emergency efforts continued. A young boy was rescued and airlifted to a local hospital by helicopter with unspecified injuries while another survivor had surgery for serious spinal fractures. Later in the day a crane was used to remove pieces of the carriages and help emergency workers determine if any injured were still trapped inside. Around 50 of the injured were transported by helicopter and ambulances to hospitals in nearby towns including Bisceglie, Barletta and Andria, as local officials appealed for urgent blood donations. “An incredible, shocking scene,” one police officer at the scene told the Italian news agency Ansa. “I saw dead people, others who were crying for help, people who were weeping. It was the most terrible sight I have seen in my life.” The local train line is run by a private company, Ferrotramviaria, based in Bari. The trains were travelling in op- posite directions on a single track and the front two carriages of both trains took the full force of the impact. “Several carriages are completely crushed and the emergency workers are pulling people out of the train. There are many injured,” Riccardo Zingaro, head of Andria traffic police, told journalists at the scene. Sergio Mattarella, Italy’ s expressed his “profound sorrow” for the victims and their families in what he called an “unacceptable tragedy”. Matteo Renzi, the prime minister, expressed his sympathy and pledged a full investigation into the crash. “Tears and sorrow for the victims and their families, but also so much anger,” Mr Renzi said yesterday. “We are demanding clarity about what hap- pened in Puglia this morning.” Mr Renzi was planning to fly to the crash site as Graziano Delrio, the minister for infrastructure and transport, arrived at the scene having deployed inspectors to join railway police in their investigation. Mr Delrio said a committee of inquiry would also be held into the cause of the accident. “It is unacceptable that such incidents can still occur in 2016, and even more unacceptable that it should have been the result perhaps of human error,” said Carlo Rienzi, president of the consumer group Codacons. “All the railway lines in the world benefit from the most advanced technology available to avoid collisions, derailments and errors. “Today’ s tragedy demonstrates how the railway transport in southern Italy is still at an intolerable level.” Eleonora Forenza, a European MP from Bari, said it was “incomprehensible” that such a popular railway line was confined to a single track.